Worky Work Wednesday

Quote of the night: “Are there any more pluggy places?” – Benjin

Tim’s mom brought pizza fondue! It is very interesting and quite delicious. In between bites, we’re performing test after test after test. Mr. Newcastle and Mr. Grasmeder rearranged our practice tables today, so we can work with the board at the exact size it will be at competition. Since we have been working with only a little bit more than half of the board so far, there are a few unexpected changes that need to be made in programming distance. All of the robots have now been programmed to start with the light cue, so we’ve just been running them over and over to make sure everything goes flawlessly (or as close to flawlessly as we can get).

“Don’t leave the light on!” said Mr. Newcastle, to which Mrs. Newcastle added, “Tim will get injured!”. It is true. Apparently some time in the past, Tim has managed to to burn himself on the hot hot lightbulbs. And, according to his mom, he still has a scar.

The fun part about having two tables is the path one must take to set up the robot. It’s a nice little crawl-under-the-table routine, plus the added obstacle of the rather hot lightbulb.

The setter-uppers also have to be able to count up our points, just in case there are any disputes. Obviously, if there is some sort of error on the part of the judges, we have to be able to point it out before the table is reset. Rumor has it that Anthony made a program on his calculator to easily count up the number of points we gain. Its usefulness factor outweighs its nerdiness! Wow!

“9001 – it’s over nine thousand!” Liam typed the number and apparently 9001 cannot be erased. He can’t believe I don’t know what he is referring to, and Benjin can’t either. It’s either “a nerd thing” or “a TJ thing”, but as Tim pointed out, the two are synonymous.

Ben and Benjin are our official setter-uppers, and Liam and Tim are helping them with the checklist. Right now they each have their own checklist, which makes everything more difficult. The setter-uppers also have only 60 seconds for their setting up, so the pressure’s on! The checklist lists every single step, even those as simple as checking to see if the robots are on. As Mr. Grasmeder said, during combat, during public speaking, or during competitions, three of the times when a big brain would be most helpful, one’s brain usually shrinks to about peanut size.

We’ve never run both of the robots at the same time, and the collision factor is a bit nerve wracking. So far in seeding round, the Legobot and the Create aren’t sharing the other side’s start box very well; if we hadn’t grabbed the Legobot out of the way, it would have been brutally crushed by the Create, and possibly tipped over the edge. On the first run, the arms of Legobot got tangled in the cords of the Create right at the beginning, which isn’t a great start. The double-robot factor is adding a few extra strains, but hopefully we’ll get it all figured out tomorrow.

Final Sunday

Bot Guy in Space
Yep, it’s our last Sunday meeting before competition. Six days to go!

Bot Guy with the CreateWe’re making great progress. Yesterday, Benjin and Mr. Newcastle worked for ages on the Create, and it’s doing an amazing job of spinning itself around the table and finding Tribble piles and putting them all in the right places. And, of course, we can’t forget to give hardware credit for the two-fingered arm that allows us to put the right Tribbles in the right spots.

two-fingered claw

The orange Tribbles represent crew people, and the green ones are vegetation. The people are supposed to get to the “shelter”, which is a red area, while the vegetation is supposed to get to the green “solarium”. By using the camera on the Create through a bunch of qualifications, it can look to see: is that a pile with three greens on the bottom and an orange on top? If so, it drives forward until it’s close enough, then picks them up with the special claw. The claw is so awesome; it has a big claw on the bottom that snags the three green ones, and a small claw on top to get the crew member separately. Then it drives to the solarium, drops off the vegetation, and drives over to the shelter to return the crew member to safety. Afterwards, it grabs the other pile and does the same. So the Create seems to be pretty much done!

Bot Guy with the Lego BotLiam and Chris just got 70 points! They have been working with the Legobot and attempting to rescue the other two remaining Tribble piles for the seeding round. Since we’re just playing against the clock, after recovering the Tribbles from our own side, we’ve been working to get all of the Tribbles from the other side onto our side as well. Today was spent trying to get the bot to do a proper linefollow across the bridge without losing any vegetation or crew members over the edge. Last I saw, they managed to get all of the foliage back to our solarium, and the turn works 95% of the time or so. The only problem occurs if the bot chooses to follow the line on the edge of the bridge rather than the middle, but I think they added some sort of “if” statement to allow for that to happen just in case.

This week the Bot Cave is open all week! We’re almost ready to pwn those n00bs at competition!

One week to go!

“tim is not a scary person” quoth liam (i disagree)Project X gets points for wearability and stylishness!

The hardware guys have continued their general idleness. At least, as far as robots are concerned. They’ve been eating Chipotle and playing Mario Kart on the Nintendo DS. Not that they can be blamed; they’re basically done, unless something needs fixed last-minute. The bridge-lowering arm on the XBC was a little loose, so they fixed that, but otherwise they’re free to observe software progress, learn about robots, and eat chips.

Hannah and I have been slacking a bit as well, discussing my definite and her indefinite plans of going to Case Western Reserve University in the fall. We made a list of which dorms we like best, and have started mentally decorating… Kevin mocked us for our laziness as he used his time wisely by spinning around on the spinny chair and eating pretzels.

and he pretends to normal.Benjin and Liam seem to be having software problems; apparently, every time Benjin tries to open the file, it doesn’t work. Then Liam tries it and it works fine. It’s a source of amusement for the rest of us.

Mr. Gras says that Liam is about 95% done with the programming on the Create. Liam seems a bit doubtful, but everything seems to be going smoothly and hopefully we’ll be all set by Code Freeze on Tuesday.

The little XBC, however, was acting funny… it had been doing fine at putting the bridge down, going across, and sorting through the cups and Tribble piles. However, if it’s not set up right, everything gets just a little bit off: and that little bit means a lot. But these are the little things that are better to catch now rather than later, so it should be easily fixed.

the game is afoot!
Next Week’s Schedule:

Monday: Go from 95 to 100% on code! Software guys, that means you!

Tuesday: Finishing touches, then Code Freeze! Only absolutely necessary and generally painless code changes after this point!

Wednesday: Checklist – a set of instructions for the setter-uppers to take with them to the board, so when they put the robot down they don’t forget any key details with the stress of competition!

Thursday: Stress Rehearsal – we test out the checklist and submit our setter-uppers to as many difficulties and distractions as we possibly can! It’ll make the actual competition seem like a piece of cake.

Friday: Pack up and Blender Party! We’ll make sure we’ve got everything we need all ready to go, then fire up the blenders and celebrate! We’ll be home at a reasonable hour to leave for competition bright and early on Saturday!

Okay, enough explanation points. But this week is going to be great, and we’re hoping to do really well at competition on Saturday!

Four weeks and counting.

team gathering! and i’m happy.

a rare sight: anthony working.The hardware guys have finished most of the stuff that needed finishing. One of the XBCs has an arm with the capability to scoop up Tribbles or cups, and the other one has two arms that can push the bridges down at the start. They seem to be lacking sufficient entertainment, so they brought their laptops. I arrived just in time to witness an epic battle trailer created by some kid who has way too much time on his hands. It was some video documenting the predicted war that would occur if all the heroines of Final Fantasy and Dead or Alive met each other. They were fighting on a rooftop, then fought as they fell down the side of the building. They were in freefall for probably about a minute, then slowed down by sliding their shoes on the wall. Because, of course, that would work. According to our calculations, the building must have been (only) 10.91 miles high. Of course, then they fell into the lava. ALMOST. But someone popped out of nowhere who could freeze the lava! Yay!

hannah and her precious bagel biteNo one can question the epicness. The movie lasted ten whole minutes.

As far as the hardware guys have gotten, software is feeling a little bit pressed for time. We just had a team meeting, and we have been informed that the competition is four weeks from yesterday. There are 23 days left to be in the Bot Cave, 65 possible hours available. So far, we can get out of our starting zone and knock over the bridge. There’s lots still left to do. Chris has even been converted from a hardware guy to a software guy.

ben is a gorilla!Anthony, it turns out, has not finished working on hardware. He is currently working on Project X, and according to him: “It doesn’t even have a name! When we haven’t even named it yet, it’s obviously classified.” It resembles a Star Wars X-Wing; I practiced flying with it and shot lasers. But its actual functionality obviously cannot be revealed at this time.

Liam and Ben are trying to get the bridge down and then get across it. Based on my observations over the past half hour, it’s a lot more difficult than it would appear.

Hannah and Chris are attempting to move the Create so that it can reach the first cup and presumably knock it off the board. They manage to do it some of the time, but the cups are being badly abused. Hannah refers to it as “well-loved.”